Homelessness: United States and Rise Kaitlyn Delehoy Essay

Submitted By Kaitlyn-Delehoy
Words: 1137
Pages: 5

Homelessness: On the Rise

Kaitlyn Delehoy
Eng 112 Sec R3
Professor Deveney
April 7, 2015 Homelessness is defined differently by several organizations, but the point they agree on are that it is an individual who lacks permanent housing. This can include a person living on the streets, in their vehicle, a shelter or someone who sleeps in different houses from day to day. The rate of child homelessness in Massachusetts has continued to rise in the past years. At fifteen percent, it is the fourth highest increase among states between the years of 2013-2014. These rises are occurring despite the state programs ranking second out of the fifty states. Massachusetts ranks less, at third place, in the addressing of the rate of child homelessness alone. The overall increase of child homelessness has gone up nearly five percent from 2012-2013. Despite the recession ending and the unemployment rate decreasing, the rate of child homelessness has increased steadily the past five years. The state offers a variety of programs to combat this rise, yet the causes of the rise are not being met with significant impact and the effect on children is worsening. The state of Massachusetts ranks very high on the state programs and assistance offered to help individuals who are struggling to afford a place to live. There are about 3,000 beds available at no charge for people without a place to sleep at night and, on any given night, a majority or all of these beds are filled. This leads one to question that if every bed is occupied, then what happens to the people who are turned away? With over 30,000 children homeless, that provides a possibility of having ten percent of them not on the streets at best. The state upped the already strict regulations for shelter admittance in 2012 which increased the amount of families who are turned away for not meeting the requirements. The qualifying residents must be at less than 115 percent of the poverty level, which for a family of three would be less than $1,900 a month of income. Doing the math, this would mean the family is making a total of $11.05 an hour if working a 40 hour week, which is $5.50 an hour in a family with two adults. That is well below the minimum wage and a quarter of what the HUD says a family would need to make hourly to afford a two bedroom apartment. There are several programs that exist to help a family afford a home by offsetting the cost of rent which include Section 8, subsidized housing and housing vouchers. Even with these programs, many people are still forced to the streets due to long waiting lists and strict guidelines for income and a priority level housing tiered system. The cause of homelessness is something no one can pinpoint because there is an array of occurrences that can lead to a family or individual becoming homeless. The most conspicuous of the reasons is loss of wages. When a person loses their source of income, they become an imminent risk for homelessness because without money a person cannot afford to pay for their mortgage or rent. In some cases, people do not lose their jobs but their residence raises the cost of the monthly rent making it impossible to afford it any longer. With the loss of one home and needing to put up a large deposit to get into a new one, many people have no other option than to live on the streets or apply for housing assistance. Families with young children incur more costs than an individual or family with older children since they must also pay for childcare on top of housing and living costs. The state of Massachusetts is one of the highest in childcare costs and the voucher program for any new applicants was shut down from 2012-2015. Though there was no guarantee on when it would be opened back up, the projection in 2012 was a four year shut down so that a large majority of the children would be out of all day childcare and in free public elementary education. Fortunately they